Retrospect

Posted: September 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

NYC-Marathon-Photo

It’s been a long time since my last entry here– almost a year actually since my first 1/2 ironman in Sept 2014. About a month and a half after that race, I ran my second marathon ever, and first in NYC. One of the things that sticks out in my mind about that race is how incredibly annoying the pre-race transportation and waiting were. I opted to take a subway to the ferry to Staten Island. Once on the island, we had to wait around for a long time in the terminal before the buses were ready to take us to the starting area. Hundreds of us literally just laid around on the floor, trying to keep warm or catch some shut-eye. Finally, when we took the bus, it took a very long time to get to the start (which wasn’t actually that far) because the roads were not shut down to local traffic. Once we got to the starting area, we had to do a quick security check, and then do a lot more waiting around once we figured out where we were actually supposed to wait based on our wave. The lines for the porta-pottys were as ridiculous as you would expect for an event with nearly 40,000 people.

Once we actually started running– a long climb out of Staten Island across the Verezano- we were immediately given a preview of what we would experience for the rest of the day: hills and strong winds. I run in NYC a lot, but mostly in Central Park, and really wasn’t prepared for the amount of climbing that was involved in all of the bridge crossings, and some of the long false flats, like up 1st Ave in Manhattan, or down 5th ave in the home stretch. The winds buffeted us throughout the day, and I think threw everyone off their goal pace. Although I was chagrined to have to walk as much as I did in the closing miles, my finishing time of 3hr38, was only 10 minutes slower than my marathon of several years prior, which was run without the relentless winds, and was a much flatter course, so after some separation from my initial disappointment, the time really wasn’t that bad. In fact– the winning time of the marathon that day was literally the slowest in a decade thanks to the winds which were gusting up to 40mph at times.

At the finish I wasn’t prepared for the pain at all. My last marathon had been four years prior, and time had softened the memory of just how much it hurt. With tens of thousands of runners still to cross the line behind us, they immediately shepherd us through the longest finishing corral ever– we literally had to walk about a mile to exit. In those moments there is no escape from the pain– standing is hell, walking is hell, sitting is slightly less hell. It was also incredibly cold– throughout the marathon we faced freezing temperatures, which are made bearable by running. Hours later, drenched in sweat and walking slowly, the cold wind is just insult to injury. Aside  from all the discomfort (it is a marathon, afterall), it was an amazing experience to run through the five boroughs and across all the bridges. And the home stretch in Central Park just felt right. All in all, I still don’t think I’d want to run this course again, except many years from now when I forget all this!

Soon after I finished the marathon, I shifted my focus to shorter distance running for the remainder of the year. Earlier in the year I had set three goals: to complete a half ironman, break 3hr30 in the marathon, and break 21min in the 5k. The first one completed, and the second one just missed, I wanted to focus on the 5k goal. Almost two months later, I toed the line of the Roosevelt Island Hot Chocolate 5k, and let loose. Despite the cold, and icy slush puddles, a little while later I was pumped to smash my 21 minute goal by finishing in 00:20:19. Several months later, in April 2015, I ran the course again and was ecstatic to set another PR and actually win an award! From the start, I was among the leading runners, which was definitely an alien experience, and I kept worrying that I was going to blow up from pushing too hard. In my racing experience, I am usually steadily passing people through the course of a race, so being in the lead pack was intimidating and made it a bit tougher to hang on since there weren’t people I could constantly “reel in”. I’ve never received anything beyond a finishers medal, so to have run well enough to take home an age-group trophy (3rd, M 30-39) was incredible. Overall, I finished in 00:20:10– fast enough to break into the top 10!

5k

Over the winter and into early 2015, I started thinking about what my goals for the year were going to be. For several years, I had been increasing the length of my triathlon (sprint–> olympic–> half iron) and so next up, and my goal for a long time, had been to complete a full-length ironman. The more I thought about it though in the early months of 2015, and working on choosing a race and putting my training plan together, the less enthusiastic I was feeling. Training for, and completing for an ironman takes an extreme amount of commitment and effort, and it didn’t feel right (or possible!) to pursue it halfheartedly. I acknowledged this wasn’t going to be the year, and instead decide to focus on an ultra marathon, which for some time, I had assumed would be my new goal after I finished an ironman.

Ultra-marathons, described as anything over marathon length, are typically the 50k (~32 miles, or 6 miles/10k longer than a marathon), 50 miles and 100 miles, though there are certainly other distances, like the 60k, or the time-based race, where runners go as far as they can go in a prescribed amount of time. For 2015, a 50 miler seemed like too steep of a jump from the marathon, so I planned to do a 50k and a 60k. Injuries and other problems conspired to make that unrealistic, so at this point, I’m shooting for a 50k in November in a run called the “Madhattan”– a small (50 runners), self-supported run around the perimeter of Manhattan.

madhattan

Unfortunately, right now, I’m dealing with my third “challenge” of the year. First, beginning in May, I began to experience what most closely seemed to mimic over training syndrome– I struggled with motivation, and my performance fell off a cliff. Running as hard as I could would only move me about as fast as a painfully slow pace. I felt fatigued all the time, and really struggled. Around the same time, I began to experience significant pain in my foot that seemed to be the early warning signs of plantar fasciitis.This caused me to cut back drastically for about a month, with hardly any running, and was very frustrating. Since then, in the past few months, I’ve been experiencing a lot of foot pain in the area of my old stress fracture. And most recently, I’ve been experiencing some hip pain/popping which seems like it might be bursitis– an inflamed bursa on the hip bone :/

For now I’m taking a few days off and hoping I can resume my training. Despite all the issues I’ve had this year, by focusing solely on running, I’ve been able to more consistently commit to in, and have logged more miles at this point of the year, than any other year since I’ve started tracking my mileage. Hopefully I can stay on track for this 50k, and then maybe bang out one more fast 5k in December. I’m not really in a position to set myself up for it, training wise, but it would be amazing to break 20 minutes this year.

-kd-

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